Home HVAC Setup

Above is a diagram of my HVAC system. I live in a ranch with three zone hot water baseboard heat and single zone Central A/C.

I have two issues with my current setup that I am trying to fix:

  1. My zone 1 thermostat controls the heat for the master bedroom and family room. The thermostat is in the family room which tends to run hot all year round because the lights are on, we are generally in it and there is a skylight and slider that allow sun light in while the master bedroom is cold in the winter.

  2. The other problem is in the summer. I have single zone AC where the AC thermostat is the same unit as the zone 3 heat. It is on the cold end of the house (more shade, less sun). Because of this the family room and master bedroom are hot unless we freeze out the other end.

I am trying to alleviate both issues. Any input is appreciated.

Edit* I think to fix the A/C issue I am going to use a zone panel and electrically controlled dampers to shut off different areas. I do have questions as to whether I would need thermostats in every area to report back to the panel or could I get away with a single ecoBee and the remote sensors to report back the various temps. This should make my single zone A/C act like a multi-zone system.

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    Both issues are typically resolved by balancing the system with duct dampers or floor/wall louvers. Have you attempted that? – isherwood Nov 6 '17 at 14:08
  • My heat is hot water baseboard. There are no ducts or floor wall for heat. For the A/C there are ceiling vents and I think the dampers are in the attic. – salisboss Nov 6 '17 at 14:25
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    Hot water baseboard typically has a flap/louver on the top of the baseboard unit. Open those in the cold area, close them in the thermostat/hot area. – Ecnerwal Nov 6 '17 at 14:59
  • if there's no flaps, you can still insulate the heaters where it's too hot, using any variety of materials, i used tshirts in college. it's not a waste because the heat goes on to where you want it more. a small fan blowing on the heater (cooling it, warming the room) where its cold will also help. – dandavis Nov 7 '17 at 2:27
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    ex: cram wadded paper into the baseboard to prevent heat from jumping out of the pipe at an overly-hot location. stopping the airflow helps the most, completely insulting it stops the last ~25% or so. this is the same principle as adjusting baffles: you're adjusting the heat bleed to fit the location. insulating the heater lower the transfer at that point, which increases the temp of the water downstream, allowing more heat to escape where needed. Fans are the opposite of insulation; heating the room as the heater cools. – dandavis Nov 7 '17 at 3:02

Regarding the cooling problem: first, I presume it is a forced air system which should have some dampers in the cool air ducts. Try partially closing the dampers (2/3 to 3/4 closed) in the ducts that carry the air to the shady side rooms. A similar effect can be made by closing the floor/wall/ceiling vents on the cool air ducts. (This is essentially what Isherwood recommended.) Additionally, set the fan to manual to keep the air circulating all the time. This will help even out the temperature throughout the house by mixing the air from all the rooms.

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  • An alternative to full manual on the fan is a smart thermostat that runs at intervals (independent of heating or cooling cycles) to distribute heat. I use my Nest for that purpose when I'm using the fireplace heavily. – isherwood Nov 6 '17 at 15:31
  • good idea about the fan, cheap and effective. i would have the fan come on if there's a threshold temp differential between the two thermostats exceeded because that's exactly when you need it. – dandavis Nov 7 '17 at 2:29
  • Dan Davis - how do you do that? Does that require a special thermostat? Seems like you would need an extra sensor away from the thermostat. – Dave McGinty Nov 7 '17 at 17:40
  • Three heating zones, only one for cooling. – Dave McGinty Nov 7 '17 at 17:45

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